Earthquake victims crowd an Army helicopter

Consortium offers road map for cloud-based rapid response

A non-profit IT industry consortium has set up an open process designed to help governments, agencies and businesses rapidly establish and manage secure, hybrid IT computing environments.

The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) is focused on ways to set up interoperable IT systems in and across industry domains, including the aerospace, air traffic management, healthcare and other sectors.

The new process, dubbed the NCOIC Rapid Response Capability (NRRC), defines how to build a secure, federated cloud infrastructure to help diverse groups working on a common project or problem exchange data via different applications.  

The process includes checklists, rules and patterns designed to promote data exchange.

"The NRRC represents a different way of doing business," said Tip Slater, NCOIC director of business development. "An interoperable platform, with both cloud and traditional IT environments and a security wrapper, is the most effective way to multiply your resources and capability while cutting your computing costs by more than half."

The NRRC was initially developed for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which is incorporating the process into its plans for disaster and humanitarian response.  

In a demonstration to NGA leaders last September, an NCOIC industry-government team showed  how an open cloud environment could quickly collect, store and share geospatial data during a complex disaster-response event. In the demo, a virtual organization was set up in a federated cloud to provide secure operations and data protection for unclassified information.

Using the NRRC process, which can also apply to applications beyond disaster response, organizations can set up a secure cloud to manage online identities and access classified information while following policies of different data owners. The need for interoperability and global collaboration in managing the IT requirements of  critical global programs has never been greater, Slater said.

"The international typhoon-response mission in the Philippines and the multi-industry/government team implementing the Affordable Care Act here in the U.S. are just two examples of operations that could be improved by a secure and reliable computing environment that supports information transfer across domains,” he said.

The NCOIC’s status as an international consortium of government and industry players helps make the large collaborations work, Slater said. "As a neutral consortium, we are able to bring together great minds from government, industry and technology-oriented organizations to find a methodology that utilizes the latest technology and still integrates all of the major efforts," he said.

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